January 14, 2016


Isaiah 6:1-7

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.

—  Isaiah 6:3

Christians often sing the hymn “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!” The melody we sing was written by John B. Dykes in 1861, but the words were first sung by seraphim, an awesome type of angelic being, around 740 B.C.

In a vision Isaiah the prophet saw seraphim flying above the throne of God. Each seraph had six wings! With two wings they covered their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew. They sang God’s praises, which we continue to sing today.

Their theme was the holiness of God. Holiness is not the same as goodness. Holiness is separation from all that is evil. God’s holiness stands in utter contrast to the corruption that is all around us and within us. And, says the Bible, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2).

So when Isaiah saw the Lord in all his holiness, he cried out, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.” But one of the seraphim flew to him with a live coal from the altar, touched his mouth and said, “Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” That scene points forward to the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, which takes away our sin and brings us forgiveness and peace with God. Do you know this Savior?

Sometimes, Lord, we don’t even know enough to tremble before your holiness. Teach us to honor you and to repent, and then flood our souls with relief and joy in the salvation you offer us in Christ. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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